Feb 10 2011

Arab uprisings winners and losers

Published by at 8:34 am under Articles

By Daoud Kuttab

While it is not clear when and how the popular revolt in Egypt will end, it is clear that the winners and losers, following the present uprising, throughout the Arab world can be identified.

It might be a cliché to state that tyrants are the biggest losers and peoples are the winners, but it does reflect what is the case in much of the Arab world.

Rulers who were able to govern with little resistance for years are suddenly discovering that the seats they have been clinging to are becoming unbearably hot.

Even without being provoked by their own people, some Arab rulers are already announcing that they don’t intend to run for office again. Heads of state who have been harbouring ideas of bequeathing their power to their children are declaring such ideas void even though their children are still running the army or such important senior posts.

Ruling parties are also quickly feeling that the ground under their feet is shifting. As people power increases in scope and courage, these parties that have ruled for years without a serious challenge are also facing the music, unable to stand up to the scrutiny of their peoples.

The newly found bravery of Arab youths has spread from one country to another. The right to demonstrate and expression, which has been restricted for years in Arab countries, has now been extracted as a result of the sacrifices in the streets. Once the barriers of fear were broken, it became clear that the right to assembly, a basic right enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights, has been won over.

As WikiLeaks states on its site, courage is contagious. The courage that was shown by angry Tunisian youths has now spread throughout the Arab world, whose youth discovered the amazing power they have by standing up to their rulers.

This newly discovered people power is perhaps best seen in the changes that are taking place in the world of Arab media. The hundreds of millions of Arabs who have been forced to consume news and commentary from a handful of government media mouthpieces are discovering and enjoying alternative and independent sources of information. Even within state-run media, the tsunami of people power that began in Tunis is being felt in. Many are quickly changing their ways, while others are holding on to their propaganda message and finding that their own staff are abandoning, unwilling to continue to lie to their people.

The Muslim Brotherhood and similar Islamists who have for years advocated a political (in contrast to the Jihadist) ideology are experiencing a sense of political renewal and empowerment. Governments are initiating dialogue with their leaders who until recently were marginalised or declared politically illegitimate.

Arab nationalism has suddenly received a major boost as a result of the popular uprisings in Arab capitals.

On the other hand, Western powers that have for years propped up these rulers and failed to discourage them to deny political rights to their people are among the bigger losers in the post-uprising Arab world.

Foreign policies of countries like the US and the EU, which have regularly received a positive nod from these rulers in return for their support for their internal policies, cannot be expected to continue as they are.

The peoples of Tunis, Egypt and other Arab countries are now empowered to chart their own policies. How will all this effect the Arab-Israeli conflict is not clear.

The events of the past few months have shown that the majority of Arab populations is focused on internal issues and insist that their governments gear future policies towards providing economic or social benefits. This will not necessarily strengthen the negotiating abilities of the Palestinian negotiators but will remove hypocritical attempts by Arab leaders who pretended to be giving priority to solving the Palestinian cause.

At the same time, the more democratic Arab countries become the more this will weaken Israel’s claim to military superiority and being the only democratic country in the Middle East, and thus force the Israelis to be more forthcoming in responding to Palestinian aspiration to freedom and liberation.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Austereview and Sunbula, Daoud Kuttab. Daoud Kuttab said: my take onthe Arab uprisings' Winners and Losers http://www.daoudkuttab.com/?p=645 مقال بالانجليزي حول الخاسرين والرابحين نتيجة ثورة الشباب […]

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